UNION, NJ – Mike Yesenko joined the Army in 1946 and has been involved in military organizations ever since. In recognition of his service, Yesenko has been named this year’s Township of Union Veteran’s Alliance Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal.
Yesenko, 88, grew up in Newark and has lived in Union since 1970. After entering the Army, he spent 13 months in Japan until his discharge in February 1948. After the war, Yesenko went to Rutgers University where he obtained a BA in Economics and American History.
Upon his college graduation, Yesenko applied for a teaching job at Union High School. He said there was no economic program at the time, so he was hired to begin the program in 1953. He taught English and Economics at the high school and became the Social Studies departmental supervisor there in 1975. For many years, he was the Social Studies department supervisor at Union High School and Burnet and Kawameeh Middle Schools. He retired from teaching in 1993.
Yesenko is active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Township of Union Historical Society and the Union County Historical Society. He is a past president of both the Township and County Historical Societies and currently the treasurer of the Township of Union’s Historical Society.
Yesenko is the author of seven books. He wrote three books about General George Washington, a book about Rev. James and Hannah Caldwell, a book about the Bicentennial history of the Township of Union and a book titled, “General William Maxwell and the New Jersey Brigade”, which chronicles Maxwell’s success in 1780 stopping the British and Hessian troops from advancing to Morristown to destroy Washington’s camp.
“I think it’s important for the residents and students of Union to understand the history here,” said Yesenko. “It’s important for people to get a sound understanding of the battle of Connecticut Farms and New Jersey history.”
On being named Grand Marshal of this year’s Memorial Day Parade, Yesenko said, “It’s a great honor. I’m honored to be recognized with the men and women who have made sacrifices for our country.”
“Mike Yesenko is a wonderful and knowledgeable man,” said Phyllis Mongus, one of the Memorial Day Parade organizers. “He is so interesting and informative about World War II and New Jersey history. He will be a great grand marshal.”
The Township of Union Veteran’s Alliance Memorial Day Parade will kick off at 10:00 am on Monday, May 29 on High Street and travel along Stuyvesant Avenue as a tribute those who have died in service of the United States of America.
“Not only is this an exciting and fun event for the entire family, but a way for us- as a community- to come together to remember those who gave their lives in honor of our freedom,” said Mayor Suzette Cavadas.
Featuring music by the Uptown String Band, floats, show cars, Clydesdale horses, military units and vehicles, and a historic was reenactment, the parade features something for people of all ages. For best viewing, watch the parade from Pearl Harbor Square on Stuyvesant Ave.
The closing ceremony at Veteran’s Honor Roll and Memorial Park, will also present the opportunity for spectators to witness a Revolutionary War Battle reenactment at 11:30am as well as live cannon fire.